EDDIE Howe believes Ryan Fraser’s impeccable assist return proves a “powerful stat” with the winger hot on the heels of Lionel Messi.

Fraser has registered nine assists in the Premier League this season - with only Chelsea’s Eden Hazard managing to create the same number of goals.

The haul makes Fraser one of the most creative players across Europe’s five major leagues.

He is one behind Barcelona great Messi, who is leading the charge in La Liga ahead of World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann and Sevilla midfielder Sarabia, who both have six.

Scotland international Fraser has already totalled more assists this season than his previous two top-flight campaigns combined.

He had a hand in all three goals, as well as registering a goal and an assist during Cherries’ 3-3 draw with Watford in the Premier League last week.

Reacting to the statistic put to him by the Daily Echo, Howe said: “The stat in itself is a very powerful one for an attacking player.

“It’s great for Ryan to hear that. He has done so well this season.

“He has had decisive moments for us, whether that is scoring goals or creating goals.

“He has been a regular goal creator and goalscorer for us. His set-piece delivery has been excellent and that was evident against Watford.

“There were two lovely free-kicks. One floated, one whipped with two goals coming from them, so I am really pleased with that.

“With the assists. We work hard on our set-plays and Ryan’s delivery is key to that.”

Fraser is ahead of the likes of AC Milan star Suso, who tops the assist standings in Serie A with eight.

Eintracht Frankfurt’s Sebastien Haller has eight to set the pace in the Bundesliga, ahead of England international Jadon Sancho (7).

Former Manchester United duo Memphis Depay and Angel Di Maria have six apiece in French Ligue 1 respectively, alongside Strasbourg’s Kenny Lala. Brazilian star Neymar has five.

Cherries snapped up 24-year-old Fraser from Aberdeen for £400,000 in January 2013.

And Howe revealed he was not surprised to see the talented Scot alongside some of Europe’s biggest names.

“One of the first things we saw when we started to work with Ryan was his quality. The quality and technical ability is so high,” he added.

“He’s got two lovely feet and a very good football brain. It was more a case of just wanting him to show everybody what he could do on a consistent basis and he has begun to do that.

“The finish for his goal against Watford was brilliant. It looked easy but it wasn’t. He had a similar chance just before that which the keeper saved when he went the other side.

“He probably learned from that one and went the opposite side. I thought it was a great finish.”

Fraser has two goals and one assist against Everton in top-flight meetings.

He will be looking to add to that tally when Cherries travel to Goodison Park on Sunday (2.15pm).